Aerospace & Ocean Engineering
Departmental Information

E-MAIL NOTIFICATIONS: Official notification of important events in AOE or changes to curricula, class scheduling, academic standing, etc. will be sent to you via e-mail. The department maintains e-mail distribution lists for each class. Your class standing for these lists depends on what courses you are taking, not the number of hours you have accumulated. We will use your PID ( address) so if you prefer to use a different address, use the PID tool to forward your mail to that address. Read your e-mail – it could be important!

ADVISING AND REGISTRATION: Every student in AOE is assigned an academic advisor who should be able to help him or her with course registration, curricular planning or with any other matter. Experience shows that students are often reluctant to see advisors, even at registration time. This is frustrating to advisors who want to help their advisees and it becomes more frustrating when the student, without proper advice, takes the wrong courses or makes other mistakes that may very well needlessly delay graduation.

We urge you to get to know your advisor. Your advisor will be one of the first people contacted by future prospective employers and by security clearance officers. It can be very important for your advisor to know you well enough to give you a good recommendation. Should you ever feel that you have problems communicating with your advisor or want to change advisors for any reason, see Dr. Canfield and a change will be made.

The AOE department considers advising an important part of the course registration process. Students should meet with their advisors during the registration period for assistance with any registration and curricular planning problems. Note that the on-line registration system allows students to register without any approval by their advisors. Also note that advisors who are concerned that students are taking courses that do not lead to a degree in AE or OE or that students are taking the wrong courses may have that student “blocked” such that they will not be officially registered for classes until they have met with their advisor and been unblocked.

Many students end up having to take additional courses beyond the 132 credits required for graduation due to such things as failure to make sure a selected course satisfies a given Core Curriculum area or by taking a course on a P/F or Audit basis and then finding that it doesn’t count toward graduation.  As of 2019 checksheet, we are down to 129/130 CH for AE/OE. 
ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR ADVISOR BEFORE REGISTERING FOR FUTURE TERMS AND BEFORE DROPPING ANY COURSE. Every year students drop courses without considering the need for the course as a prerequisite for later courses, which are only offered once each year. The result can be a full year delay in graduation due to dropping a single course!

CAREER ADVISING: The AOE Department encourages its students to make career planning part of their long term educational process. Co-op and summer employment are definite plusses on a student’s resume along with student technical society activities and undergraduate research experience. The department also has two “Academic Career Advisors” to help students with any and all aspects of career planning. Dr. Canfield and Dr. Neu are the Career Advisors for AE and OE respectively, and they will be glad to help our students with resume preparation, job recommendations, etc.


CO-OP: The AOE Department encourages students to participate in the University Co-op Program and will work with them to develop a practical academic schedule with alternate work and study terms to allow graduation in that program. Co-op is an excellent way to gain valuable “real world” experience, earn extra money and line up a job upon graduation. Dr. Canfield is the department’s Co-op advisor. Interested students should contact the Career Services Office on the top floor of Henderson Hall.

CORE CURRICULUM: University Core Curriculum information appears on a following page. This information is meant only as a summary of that found in the extensive booklet published annually by the university. The university web site contains the most up to date listing of courses in this often confusing and ever-changing program. Students should select “core” courses carefully and refrain from “assuming” that a course is in the core just because other courses in that department are in the core.

COURSE WITHDRAWAL POLICY: Under this policy, you may withdraw from a course without academic penalty up until the last day of class. You can only do this for three courses during your career at Virginia Tech. This policy has the potential for serious misuse leading to major delays in graduation. Note that this policy must be used prior to the end of the course in concern and may not be applied afterwards. It also requires the permission of the student’s department and Dean.

DOUBLE MAJORS and TWO DEGREES: Many AOE students choose to earn a double major in the “other” curriculum in the department. The double major can be earned with as little as two extra credits of work. Programs of study for double majors from both the AE and the OE perspective are listed in the following material. It should be noted that a double major only receives a diploma in the program listed as the “first” major even though both majors are indicated on the student’s transcript. A double major certificate is issued to recognize the second major. The university requires that a graduate desiring two diplomas (called “two degrees”) take a minimum of thirty extra credits even though that many credits may not be needed for completion of the second degree program. It is generally advisable to pursue a masters degree rather than “two degrees” if one has the time to take 30 credits beyond the single BS degree.

Some AOE students may be interested in a second major outside the department. While such programs are not necessarily beneficial in the job market or elsewhere, the department will work with students who desire a second major to plan their academic program. AOE students have graduated with second majors in Math, Physics, English, Philosophy, Chemistry and other engineering programs. Again, it is generally in one’s best interest to pursue a master’s degree program rather than a second major.

MINORS: Minors often require significant additional coursework beyond the 136 credits necessary to graduate and are not generally available in engineering majors however, a Math minor, requires little additional study beyond the math credits which are already a part of the AE and OE curricula. Interested students should contact the Math Department for a list of minor requirements and for the forms needed to sign up for the minor.

TECHNICAL AND MATH ELECTIVES: Technical and math electives acceptable in the AOE programs of study are listed on pages which follow. Substitutions for these listed courses may be made with the prior approval of the student’s advisor in cases where a course meets a special career objective or where a new course is not on the list.

This last item may not affect many of you right away but some of you may be moving the statistics class forward in your program and may need to know this now. Effective immediately, the required statistics course for the OE program and the statistics option for the math elective in the AE program is changed to STAT 4705. The Statistics Department has changed the emphasis of some of its courses and the course that best suits our purposes is now STAT 4705.

TIME NEEDED TO GRADUATE: The curricula in AOE are designed to facilitate graduation in four years for normal students and in five years for Co-op students. Required junior and senior level AOE courses are only offered once per year, making it difficult to “stretch” the program over a longer period. The department; however, realizes that some students enter the department later than normal or with less credits than normal and there are others who need to accommodate special programs such as ROTC or sports participation. Students enrolled in a ROTC program must meet the requirements of that program in addition to the AOE graduation requirements. Few ROTC courses will satisfy elective course requirements in the major. ROTC students will usually have to delay taking core and other elective courses to allow room for ROTC course requirements. Unfortunately, ROTC summer training requirements often prevent catching up on delayed courses during summer sessions. With very careful early planning it is possible for the ROTC student to graduate in four years but most will need at least one extra semester for completion of academic and ROTC requirements. We will work with such students to develop the needed schedule of coursework within the restrictions imposed by course teaching schedules, curricular and accreditation requirements, and elective availability. Students anticipating any deviation from the listed curriculum for any reason are urged to see their advisor before selecting an alternate schedule. Delaying any of the courses in the curriculum without proper planning and consideration of the consequences can easily cost the student an extra year before graduation because of course sequencing and availability.

Spacecraft Dynamics and Control, AOE 4140, has a prerequisite of AOE 4134, Astromechanics. Students wishing to take Spacecraft Dynamics and Control in place of AOE 3134, Stability and Control in the spring of their junior year must choose Astromechanics in the fall of the junior year in place of the elective listed.

 TECHNICAL AND HONOR SOCIETIES: The AOE Department is fortunate to have three outstanding student sections or branches of national organizations. We strongly recommend student participation in one or both of the two technical societies and an invitation to join the third group will follow good academic performance in the program.

AIAA The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the leading international technical society for aerospace professionals. The Virginia Tech student branch is among the largest and most active in AIAA. Activities include regular meetings, a regional paper competition and design competitions. Drs. Patil and Woolsey are the AIAA Faculty Advisors.

SNAME The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers is the professional society for Ocean Engineers. The Tech student group has been very active and successful in SNAME national programs and design competitions. Members hold regular meetings and highlight their year with a trip to the SNAME national meeting. Dr. Brown is the Faculty Advisor.

Sigma Gamma Tau is the national Aerospace honor society. Each term ??? selects the top AOE juniors and seniors for membership. Both AE and OE students are invited to join. Drs. Seidel and Woolsey are the faculty advisors.

SEDS While not a student branch of a recognized national or international technical society, the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space is a club for students interested in space. Students interested in the astronautics portion of aerospace engineering may wish to become a member of SEDS in addition to joining the AIAA. Dr. Hall works with this organization.